By Frank Angst / Blood Horse
Considering he finished among the top four riders each year from 2014-17 in both North American earnings and wins, it wouldn’t be accurate to call jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.’s 2018 season a breakthrough, but he most certainly found another level.
From 1,616 mounts, Ortiz wound up atop the rider standings in both North American earnings ($27,727,039) and wins (346). Both numbers are career bests for Ortiz, a 26-year-old native of Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, who began riding in the mainland United States in 2011. It’s the second straight year Ortiz has ranked first in wins.
Although Ortiz already owned Breeders’ Cup wins, 2018 marked the first time he won multiple races at the World Championships in the same year. He delivered a flawless ride to help Shamrock Rose to a come-from-behind victory in the Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs one day after guiding Newspaperofrecord to a win in the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T).